I asked Pastor Lawrence if he would share his thoughts in the wake of last week's violence and all that has happened since. He was reluctant because sorting through the emotions has been tough. Here are his thoughts...
A Proper Response To a Reeling Culture
This morning as I finally weigh in on the trauma that has happened in America, I do so with a very heavy heart. I do so fighting the emotions of anger and praying through the attitude of reverting back to viewing our country AND LIFE through the lenses of race and racism. I weigh in hopefully having taken the time to discern appropriately for where I am as an African American Christian and where we are in America. My goal is to hopefully help us respond to those who are like us appropriately and to relate properly to those different from us racially and socially. I also want to empower us to effectively engage our world and to not shrink back from our duties as citizens and our responsibility to live out our true identity in Christ Jesus in a time such as this. Someone once said that when the darkness is really dark the lights become brighter. I hope that we become lights to those around us.
American citizens are reeling from the murderous atrocities that took place this past week. African Americans are angrier than ever before at the horrendous murders that took place at the hands of white policeman. This outrage is escalating because the recent killings are being linked to the memories of numerous past killings and injustices perpetrated upon among African American men. Some of the talk among the African Americans that I’ve encountered is that they feel that a prejudice and racist system will move craftily, and I emphasize craftily, to exonerate the white policemen thereby fueling their outrage and anger. Years of incidents filled with injustice, racist remarks, and practices are being rolled into these events. The anger and the outrage from the African American community is one that is fueled by a mentality that is “fed up” with so many injustices and the seemingly “it’s okay business as usual" attitude towards African Americans in America. The issue is not just the unnecessary and uncalled for killings by policemen who have taken an oath to be serve and protect. The issue is that all across America there seems to be (from our perspective) an indifference to the complete plight of the African American community.
So how do gospel centered Christians white and black respond to a crisis such as the one we’re facing right now where there seems to be an undercurrent of mobilization from “a few” in the black community who have decided that a proper response to the needless, uncalled for, and free season killing of black men is to kill white policemen? First and foremost the driving position of our hearts and minds must maintain the fact and keep at the forefront of our hearts and minds that our race is secondary to who we are in Christ Jesus. This means that we must respond in a manner keeping with the standards of holiness and righteousness even though the outrage from which ever position you hold may be justified. Secondly, we are our bothers keeper. We have a duty and responsibility of love for each other to understand each other’s hurts, way of thinking, and to engage each other “with compassion” (Definitely not pity or revenge) from the position of what is right. For example the retaliation of killing the police officers is definitely wrong! No action on the part of one justifies this type of reaction on the part of another. In my conversations with my African American peers, some see this retaliation as acceptable, IT IS NOT! I listened to a video post on Facebook by Kalyn Chapman James, the first African American woman to win Miss Alabama. She shared her grief and mixed emotions of outrage at the numerous killings of African American men by police officers. She stated in her grief, that she believed that the Dallas shooter was in “many ways a martyr.” She is wrong and any attitude to suggest the possibility that the Dallas shootings, as well as the others that took place are justified, is a wrong and dangerous attitude. On the flip side the proper response from our white brothers and sisters is to see the hurt that we’re experiencing in the African American community. The real truth is that the African American community is in a tail spin downward. We are and have been for years. As citizens we are the last hired and first fired, last in education, and last in economic standing. The seemingly readiness by police officers to kill black men so easily tend to say to African Americans that the attitude of America towards us has not really changed. We have been hurt “TWICE AGAIN IN ONE WEEK” by these killings by police officers. As a Christian who is white now is the time for you to step up, speak up, and stand with your African American brothers. As a Christian who is white you must try to see what we’re experiencing right now and stand with us in love. You have to walk with us as we work through this. You must not agree with your peers that we’re making a “mountain out of a molehill.” Presently from the videos and regarding the fact that no crime was being committed in either case, the cause for lethal force, in my opinion, was not warranted.
Our engagement with each other must be one of compassion and understanding from both groups. We have the scriptures to guide us and the Holy Spirit to empower us to shine in this dark hour in America. 1 Corinthians 12:26-27 states, “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.” We are in this together therefore we must take this tragic time in our country and use it to engage our culture through Christian love, care, and concern for our brothers and their hurts. This is not the effort of one race but one body, the body of Jesus.
The darkness over us created by these killings has also given us the opportunity to respond to our culture in a manner that they see Jesus in us. If we respond in any manner less than what Jesus would do (because we have the Holy Spirit in us to empower us) then our response would be no better than the attitudes of those who perpetrated these crimes or the ones who reacted wrongly to them.
Prayerfully & Respectfully,
It is time for us to patiently listen, to love like Jesus, to weep with those who weep...
"If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith,so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." I Corinthians 13:1-7